Column: How did this happen again? USC and Carol Folt are responsible for the Mike Bohn mess
Bill Plaschke (LA Times) — When Mike Bohn barreled into USC as its latest athletic director in the winter of 2019, he was sold as a man of character by university President Carol Folt.
“He has real integrity,” Folt said at the time. “He has run class acts and done it really well in some difficult situations.”
As Bohn was backpedaling out of USC nearly 3½ years later, it once again appears the Trojans have only a casual relationship with the word “integrity.”
Bohn resigned suddenly Friday in a statement issued to The Times that never actually said why he was resigning. But it’s not too hard to connect the dots, and the picture they produce is shameful.
Bohn quit barely 24 hours after The Times asked him and USC about internal criticism of his management.
He quit shortly before The Times published a story by Ryan Kartje in which two USC sources charged that he had made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female colleagues.
He quit shortly before The Times story reported that three sources said several people confronted him about his behavior, yet it continued.
He quit before The Times story reported that six USC sources raised concerns about his department management, including charges that he missed meetings and was often absent from key events.
He quit before The Times story recounted concerns about his conduct in his previous job at Cincinnati, citing six sources both named and anonymous who said he made unwanted physical contact with women while creating a toxic and hostile work environment.
Mike Bohn quit before a Times story brought great embarrassment to him and the department.
You do the math.
All of which leads to two major questions that will be asked by anyone who has watched USC continually sacrifice integrity on the altar of victories.
Would Folt have fired Bohn if The Times story never appeared?
And why on earth did they hire this guy in the first place?
The answer to the first question can probably be found in the powerful image created by Bohn, who was gregarious, quotable and cool.
Fans loved him. The national media respected him. The Trojan athletic department blossomed under his watch.
He got the credit, deservedly or not, for hiring football guru Lincoln Riley. He got the credit, deservedly or not, for bringing the Trojans into the lucrative Big Ten.
Even the USC basketball programs thrived under Bohn, with the Trojan men adding top recruits including LeBron James’ son Bronny and the Trojan women finally qualifying for the NCAA tournament under celebrated coach Lindsay Gottlieb.
In March of 2022, Bohn was named an athletic director of the year by the National Assn. of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and his future in the Trojan kingdom seemed set.
Did all this make him untouchable? It sure felt like it.
SC seemingly knew that beneath Bohn’s flashy accomplishments, there was trouble brewing. According to The Times story, earlier this year USC retained a lawyer specializing in sexual and gender-based harassment, and in March, Gina Maisto Smith began interviewing members of the athletic department.
It seems obvious that in those two months, Smith could have confirmed the discontent discovered by The Times. One would think that, at the very least, given that information, USC would have been prepared to part ways with Bohn by settling on a replacement.
But, no, the resignation was sudden and there was no replacement in place, which can only lead one to believe that USC was never going to remove Bohn unless pushed.
If true, that is a condemnation of USC and Carol Folt, and that’s not even the worst of it.
What makes this whole affair even sleazier is that it’s now apparent Bohn should never have been hired in the first place.
Six sources in The Times story — including two willing to be named — describe questionable behavior at Cincinnati. How does this never come up in the vetting process?
We’re not talking about sources from Bohn’s deep past. We’re talking not about childhood grudges or grade-school gossip. We’re talking about his most recent job! Nobody at USC bothered to do a deep dive on his time at Cincinnati before hiring him directly from … Cincinnati?
Robb Williams, former Cincinnati head athletic trainer, told The Times that he saw Bohn make unwanted contact with women on several occasions, including touching their shoulders and backs in a way that made them feel visibly uncomfortable.
Kim McGraw, former Cincinnati athletics director of business affairs, told The Times she witnessed Bohn squeezing women’s shoulders and putting his arms around them in ways that made “her skin crawl.”
Was nobody from Cincinnati approached by USC or its hired guns Turnkey Search? Or did people talk and they were ignored?
USC has repeatedly declined to respond to The Times’ questions about Bohn’s behavior.
When asked Saturday whether Bohn was properly scrutinized before he was hired, a source close to Bohn’s search maintained that the university conducted a thorough vetting process.
This all comes back to Folt. This is her account. This is her responsibility. This is her mess and right now, she must swim in it.
Remember, when she was inaugurated a couple of months before hiring Bohn, her mission was to fix the deep holes in USC’s moral fiber.
“Today we are turning a page at USC,” Folt intoned in her opening address. “We are starting a new journey of exploration.”
Nearly four years later, no page turned here, just the same old story. And it would have been nice if she started this “new journey of exploration” by exploring the past of the future athletic director.
It’s all become so repetitive. The criticisms have become so wearisome. It’s so sad that one of the crown jewels of college sports has become such low-hanging fruit.
The Reggie Bush scandal. The Steve Sarkisian scandal. The college admissions scandal.
And now, the Mike Bohn scandal, which Folt should handle in two ways.
First, release the result of Smith’s review. It’s been done in other places. Do it here. Open the books. Be transparent about what exactly happened under Bohn as a sign that you’re serious about it never happening again.
Second, when you hire a new athletic director, don’t dare throw around that word “integrity.”
Integrity is something to be earned. And once again, USC athletics has squandered it.
People talking sports in my area (NY Metro ) asking “Should USC re-check their Vetting rule/system ” ?…I say maybe yes …Maybe no . But I personally am not Gonna over criticize SC Simply because I Know SC AIN’T Perfect (and never will be ) I heard >>> ” Who is the best run University in the USA ?” I do not think there is a “Best run University in the USA” And quite possibly never will be one either . Every University on this Planet has flaws (and always will …Including USC ) !
Why didn’t USC sufficiently vet Mike Bohn when hiring him? Matt Zemek (Yahoo) — Why did USC not get crucial information on Bohn? What happened in the vetting process which caused USC to fall short in unearthing instances of bad behavior? Now we have our answer, courtesy of reporting from The Athletic, which unearthed a very revealing quote from a source. This one quote sums up why USC’s vetting process toward Bohn turned out to be woefully inadequate. USC used the firm Turnkey Search when looking for its new athletic director in 2019, following the resignation of embattled AD Lynn Swann.… Read more »
What did USC pay and will pay Turnkey? I’m guessing a couple hundred thousand. For that you should get more than 5 or 6 phone calls to current and former administrators. Folt’s secretary could do that in a day. You can’t send a private investigator to snoop around the Cincinnati Athletic Department, ask some questions of the staff? Sounds like Turnkey makes bank for doing very little.
USC clearly got massively fleeced by Turnkey. You’d think companies like Turnkey would be held to a significantly higher standard.
Just goes to show (yet again) that the high-titled people in so-called power don’t always have even the faintest idea of what they are doing.
Wow! You are one tough cookie! All Bohn did was completely turn around a grease fire of an Athletic Department in about a year and then addressed the grease fire in our flagship athletic team, firing an incompetent who had lead the football program for five years into an abyss and hiring one of the best HC hires in SC history (hell, in collegiate football history) AND then lead perhaps the most important strategic (and critical) change in SC athletic history by taking SC to the B10. That is three brilliant accomplishments, with the last one being breathtaking in scope… Read more »
Whoever said anything about Nick Saban?
Turnkey unleashed a well-known workplace nightmare person (at least to everyone at CIN) on USC who harassed USC people to the point where he had to be immediately fired once the complaints hit the fan — and especially the relentless publicity machine.
I can’t believe you think Turnkey vetted Bohn properly. They should be forced to repay USC every dime the Trojans had to fork over for the job they never did.
Some are worried that USC’s new AD may not be able to provide Lincoln Riley with the environment he needs to keep going forward to the top.
The new AD will come in under much more scrutiny (if that’s possible) and be expected to succeed with at least the same generally positive results Mike Bohn did, without the workplace/management complaints.
But maybe that won’t be so hard after all.
Given all that Bohn accomplished (I think his four years are the best four years of managing SC Athletics from an outcome standpoint in my lifetime – given the mess he was handed, the accomplishments are beyond impressive), I agree with the commentator who said SC will now need to hire “BIG”. The key is the new AD MUST get along with and support LR. Difficult situation. We want a great AD, but one who will not have the power of the head football coach.
We’d also like an AD who won’t bring shame to USC by clearly mistreating women in the workplace over a long period of time. Bohn was unfortunately a massive failure in that regard as he was immed compelled to quit as soon as the LAT got in touch with the school to ask some questions. Sadly, this just seems like old times, except 2023 is even less forgiving. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen hugely negative behavioral issues happen before at USC big-time, as when Max Nikias intentionally let big-shot perverts run loose for extended periods in their high positions at the… Read more »
Did Bohn rape someone? Sorry, I don’t trust this era of guilty until proven innocent. Any female with an agenda can ruin a male superior’s (superior male😎?) career. For females in govt. and academia, it’s all about getting those male scalps.
Have to agree with this post.
In America a person is not presumed guilty until convicted with proof.
Of course with the LA times they said the person was being investigated. But there was no mention of a conviction.
There was implication of guilt which was wrong.
The presumption of innocence really only applies in criminal prosecutions.
In the rest of life, based on my experience at least, lots of people are routinely vilified, both publicly and privately, for doing things they may have never actually done.
And if Bohn was truly innocent, he shouldn’t have resigned. I don’t see any wrongful termination suit coming either.
Bohn did an unbelievably fantastic job at USC in certain areas. On that, we can all agree. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep him out of trouble.
whatever happened to people not liking where they work, so they get a job somewhere else? Plenty of other similar gigs at the University and elsewhere. I know that all people LIE, including woman. I also know that the woke look for racism or to be a victim in just about everything. They get out of bed almost begging to be offended. Harmless insensitive comments by an older generation is what everyone has always had to deal with at work. It’s called WORK. It’s not a safe space. They PAY you to be there. If it’s a real aggression, something… Read more »
Why resign in disgrace from a fantastic job if you’re just being framed? I think I know why.
didn’t think he was framed. Just that he is an old school person that obviously doesn’t fit in the progressive workspace anymore.
Tolerance should go both ways. People shouldn’t be cancelled by those that look for reasons to be offended on a daily basis. destroying a person’s life defines mean. And over what?
but you may be right maybe he actually did something that hasn’t been made public. sc
College football’s 10 non-Deion spring transfer portal winners, from ALA to USC Max Olson (The Athletic) — College football’s first spring transfer window closed on April 30. More than 650 FBS scholarship players entered the NCAA transfer portal in search of a new home during that two-week window. These recruitments tend to move quickly, but it seemed wise to wait a few weeks and see where these players committed before judging who won the spring cycle. We have already written extensively about Colorado, the players it sent packing to the portal and the players Deion Sanders and his staff added to rebuild their… Read more »
Terrific game today in the Pac-12 baseball tourney between USC and UW. In the bottom of the 7th, the Trojans are losing 4-2, leaving the bases loaded with two straight fly balls.
Dr. Denise Kwok, USC’s interim executive administrator in search of a new AD and overlooking USC’s entry into the B1G for now. bio
Big Ten member schools don’t seem prepared for the arrival of USC Matt Zemek (Yahoo Sports) — One of the weirder stories in college sports in this month of May is the report from ESPN’s Pete Thamel about the dysfunction in Big Ten offices and the confusion that dysfunction has created in Big Ten athletic departments. The dysfunction itself isn’t especially weird — there’s plenty of that to go around in college sports — but what stands out is how surprised some Big Ten athletic departments seemed to be in the face of the realization that yes, a lot more… Read more »
Easy solution – SC and UCLA do not play away in November. All game are in So. Cal. The weather will be much better and the B10 fan base gets to travel to So.Cal to get the weather – basically, each B10 team gets to play in the Rose Bowl and the Coliseum in November. That means a lot of road games for SC and UCLA in late September and probably all of October. Gives the B10 fans a break from the winter; allows SC and UCLA fans to travel to the midwest when the weather is good. Makes too… Read more »
Strange Bedfellows: Larry Scott, who tried to pretend he turned the Pac-12 into a “media company”, in fact passed off a very financially sick conference to George Kliavkoff, here looking unimpressed with the finger-pointing Scott.
WSU financial woes signal red flag from Pac-12 country Dick Harmon (Yahoo) — Earlier this week, Washington State president Kirk Schulz ordered a “temporary freeze” on all current and future WSU athletics vacant positions and put a pause on nonessential travel, purchases and new personnel development. This comes because of a “significant decrease in the Pac-12 revenue distribution as a result of overpayments from one of the conference media partners that must be resolved,” as reported by Brett McMurphy of Action Network HQ. WSU’s financial crisis might have been brought on by some mismanagement. But for sure, overspending, a gluttonous track… Read more »
Allen, I still think the PAC is the story of the year. If WSU cannot handle a $4 million hit (I assume the payout under the expiring media agreement in in the $40 million range less the $4 million), how is it going to handle a drop of perhaps another $15 million starting in 2024? I think the only Pac school that will not be impacted is Oregon and perhaps UW. Oregon is for all practical purposes a division of Nike, so it is immune to a drop of $20 million or so. UW has a very wealthy alumni base… Read more »
Did they (WSU) have to pay off their former football coach who refused to take the stupid covid jab? I think it was a firing, right?
ATL, I just checked. That lawsuit is still proceeding. WSU is vigorously defending it. As I understand it, this belt tightening is due the pay back for the over payment being taken out of the present income stream from the media deal that expires this year. The PAC still does not have a media deal (all other P5 conferences have locked theirs up) and it looks like whatever media deal is put together will produce about half of the prior deal. Allen is spot on that Larry Scott was paid a fortune to (at best) severely damage the conference or… Read more »
Carol Folt Names a Transition Team Ryan Kartje (LA Times) — USC has appointed an “interim executive administrator” to help steer a reeling department in the wake of Mike Bohn’s resignation Friday. Denise Kwok, USC’s executive senior associate athletic director for student-athlete development, will be the interim executive administrator while USC balances conducting a search for a new athletic director and navigating a transition to the Big Ten Conference. She’ll be joined in that task by a newly appointed “interim leadership” team that includes three external administrators with athletics experience, as well as four members of university president Carol Folt’s senior administration. Outside members… Read more »
here comes a gay chick AD….
No surprises here.
USC opens as a 35-pt fave over SJS and a 35.5-pt fave over NEV in the Coliseum.
ACC endorses plan for increased payouts based on schools’ performance in postseason play
The Athletic — The ACC will launch a “success incentive initiative” starting in the 2024-25 academic year that will distribute additional league payouts to schools based on teams’ performances in revenue-generating postseason play, the ACC Board of Directors announced Wednesday.
Details of how the incentives will be determined were not released but “will be solidified in the coming months,” the ACC said.
What?! A meritocracy in favor of parity? How vicious and unfair! Can’t we all just play and everyone gets a trophy? 😉
Looks like just a Band-Aid to me that won’t work. Not even close.
Their TV contract is so crappy that the best teams in the ACC are destined to follow USC’s move, eventually deserting the conference.
Watching how USC does in the B1G is going to be everyone’s past-time during the next few years. Being the center of attention with LR in charge is gonna be a blast.
I think the ACC contract goes for another decade. With the buyout being $120 Million. What happens to the Pac will set a precedent for the remainder of the conferences. I think some type of meritocracy will in the end be the outcome of the present unrest, but it will not happen quickly. SC’s move to B10 is so brilliant that I still cannot believe it happened. If the Pac folds (and I put that at about 50-50), it is a cautionary tale for the WSU’s of the world – for WSU will end up in the Mountain West. So,… Read more »
USC Needs a “Rock Star” AD Hire Stewart Mandel (The Athletic) — Given Mike Bohn’s abrupt departure was precipitated by an investigation into the workplace culture in his department that unearthed numerous complaints about his behavior and leadership style, we can safely assume he will have zero say in the next athletic director. And generally speaking, when someone is ousted under suspicious circumstances, the school looks for someone as far removed from them as possible. One possible exception would be Ed Stewart, formerly of the Big 12, who joined USC’s department in August and works directly with football. USC needs to make… Read more »
today’s win over the bruins was huge for our postseason chances, and effectively eliminates them from consideration.SC was dead last in 2022, and now is on the cusp of making the field of 64. Stankiewitz (sp?) has done a remarkable job in one year. He has completely overhauled the culture of the program.
Absolutely. I also remember reading that SC was “settling” for Coach Stanke because the “flashy, sexy” hires all turned us down … which reminds me of another “settle choice,” a guy named Pete something …
Ya, USC was totally after UCSB coach Andrew Checketts, but he said no. The Gauchos are 35-17 so far this year.
UCSB is 330-199-3 (.624) during Checkett’s 11 years at UCSB.
Glad that our Andy, this one named Stankiewitz, has worked out so well thus far.
Weird 2022 USC football season stats:
USC in its first three games last season (RICE, STAN, FSU), scored 152 points.
After 3 quarters of game #4 vs ORE ST in Corvallis, USC still trailed the Beavs 7-3, before winning late 17-14 in front of a standing room only crowd like USC often attracts.
Also amazingly, USC did not turn the ball over even one time in its first four games!
USC beats UCLA 6-4 in Trojans’ first Pac-12 tourney game, probably assuring USC a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2015 (39-21) with its 34th win of the year.
Speedy USC 3rd baseman/freshman Austin Overn had a 3-run homer, and a 2-run triple, his nation leading 14th triple bagger of the season.
My day has been officially made.
I wanted this one too, bad. Austin Overn’s just an unreal player. So great to see USC sit UCLA baseball down like this. ✌
Andy has done an incredible job this year. He is bringing us back to prominence.
OH SO SCWEET when you bounce the bRuins as you assure Troy’s spot in the CSW postseason. FIGHT ON!!
Pac-12 tourney baseball game schedule:
Tuesday – USC vs. UCLA (Scottsdale Stadium), May 23, 2:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
Thursday – USC vs. UW (Scottsdale Stadium), May 25, 2:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS:
Tuesday – USC: RHP Eric Hammond (3-4, 4.78 ERA) vs. UCLA: RHP Jake Brooks (6-5, 5.45 ERA)
Thursday – USC: TBA vs. UW: TBA
BOHN DESERVES CREDIT; FOLT COULD BE A SOSNA ROADBLOCK Matt Wadleigh (TrojansWire) — Mike Bohn deserves a lot of credit for Brandon Sosna after the job the two did at USC. When Sosna left for the NFL one year ago, we wrote that “Mike Bohn deserves a lot of credit for what he has achieved as USC’s AD. Brandon Sosna helped Bohn deliver grade-A results.” The idea that Sosna isn’t ready for the top job is, at the very least, a claim which deserves further examination. Sosna did a lot of work in the surprising hire (at the time)… Read more »
First, I have NO idea whether or not it’s true. Does it seem “dodgy” ~ yup. Could there be another side ~ also yup. Does it require further investigation ~ absolutely yup. Is he guilty until proven innocent … oops, my bad, for a moment I thought I was a journalist … is he innocent until proven guilty, MOST DEFINITELY YUP. The HUGE problems I have with Plaschke’s finger-pointing/outrage are: where where all of these folks when the announcement was made back in 2019? Why did the press not do “deep dive due diligence” of their own (especially considering SC… Read more »
Plaschke does the “outrage bit” way too often for my taste. He seems to strangely believe he occupies some bizarre moral high ground as a frustrated sports columnist.
Deep down I think he’s a semi-USC hater who’s always trying to pretend he’s not. But as you say, to throw in the trash about Reggie Bush exposes his bias.
Totally agree, Allen. Pure poser. ✌✌
I view him as an amoral opportunist. He writes to make money and the way to do that is get people to read your columns and sensationalism drives clicks. So, when it suits him, he is pro-SC and when it suits him he is anti-SC. His slant is always to sensationalize. He is a very good writer, but has no conscience. He has written some very good pro-SC articles, when it suited him, like when Bohn was hired and LR was hired, but when attacking Bohn will generate more interest, he then uses his talent to that end.
Plaschke is and always has been a tool. He hates SC (even though he has “sc” in his name).
I just am hoping that the Next USC AD hired has more than a fair amount of EXPERIENCE …..Why ? ……Because as Allen pointed out earlier the next USC AD is gonna have a lot …….A LOT on their plate (and then some ! ) …..Fight On !
Experience should be a huge criteria for selection,
You wouldn’t want a doctor to operate on you if they haven’t
done it before.
More musings on the above article. It may very well be that USC was ready to part ways with Bohn and was starting the search for his replacement before the LAT force a premature move. USC seems to be slower than it would appear needed to make moves. Slow to replace Nikias, the Med School Dean, Swann, Helton, Title 9 investigations. It should be clear to all that USC/Folt have zero tolerance for harrasment. The LAT, and their little sister the San Diego UT, love to condemn successful private institutions and corporations. At election time they love to endorse leftist… Read more »
Golden, I find this incredibly evil. By all accounts and based on the results, Mike Bohn is both a fine human being and a brilliant AD. But,he has been “cancelled”. My guess is he simply did not grasp how to behave around woke females, how vicious and mean the woke are, and did not protect himself. Someone vicious decided to come after him. And, he failed to recognize it. IMO, Folt made the decision to get rid of him when she brought in the “BanShe” female attorney from Philadelphia. My guess is Folt was reacting and was not the source.… Read more »
Lincoln Riley ranks #1 among Pac-12 head coaches, per CBS Sports
1.Lincoln Riley, USC
2.Kyle Whittingham, UTAH
3.Chip Kelly, UCLA
4.Kalen DeBoer, UW
5.Jonathan Smith, OSU
6.Dan Lanning, ORE
7.Deion Sanders, CU
8.Jake Dickert, WSU
9.Justin Wilcox, CAL
10.Jedd Fisch, ARIZ
11.Kenny Dillingham, ASU
12.Troy Taylor, STAN
I would rank Fisch #8. Otherwise, looks solid. Nice to have an elite coach. Thanks, Mike.
Chip Kelly doesn’t belong at #3. His losing 5-year record at UCLA is 27-29.
i don’t know. Don’t you have to give some credit to the guy that was buying all of his running backs out of Texas while he was at Oregon and received only a slap on the back of his hand?
Chocco Chip is most certainly a cheater and a crooked SOB to be sure. Thanks for the reminder!
Dan Patrick is a skeptic regarding CU football hype
“They were terrible last year, They’re not going to be good this year,” Patrick said. “Nobody wants to be a buzzkill going, ‘Yeah, they’re probably going to win two games’… I’ve made these mistakes before. You get caught up in the hype. What if [Deion] goes 0-5? And he might. But that doesn’t mean that he won’t be successful.”
Ranking 2023 NFL rookie wide receivers by situation: Vikings’ Jordan Addison paces the class PFF — Rookie wide receivers are acclimating to the NFL faster and faster, with four first-year players cracking the 1,000-yard mark over the past two seasons. How productive a rookie can be ultimately comes down to how talented they are, but the situation they land in plays a key role. Here is our ranking of the best situations for all rookie wide receivers heading into the 2023 season. 1. JORDAN ADDISON, MINNESOTA VIKINGSAddison should start immediately in Minnesota, and he has a strong shot at leading the rookie… Read more »
Clearly the USC Athletic Department has made a miraculous turn around since Bohn came on board. Who is responsible for that leadership and hard work? Did Bohn become a burned out boorish figure head? Was Sosna the skilled XO behind the captain of the ship? Was the vetting process really that flawed? So hard to know what goes on behind closed doors. The next AD will have a tough time consuming job. Going to every Confernce and National Championship event in every sport USC might compete in. The logistics of getting every athlete on every team to events all across… Read more »
My take is, let’s see what Folt & BOD comes up with in finding Bohn’s replacement. They did choose & hired Bohn, we have to give them that much. Although Caruso may have been the driving force behind that? Timing is what I am interested in. How soon will a top candidate be chosen and then hired? Hopefully the wait won’t be long in keeping the momentum going forward in showcasing USC athletics.
I don’t need the statue-grabber little foltie to be a moral arbiter of any behavior by anyone. She was an out of character hire for the university–more suited for liberal cesspools like Berzerkley, stanfurd, vandy or northwestern….
She was our third choice for president, don’t forget….
Crucial Times and a Huge Choice Loom at USC Stewart Mandel (The Athletic) — After a decade of endless soap operas, scandals and football mediocrity, USC fans finally got to spend a couple of years enjoying the fruits of an ostensibly functional athletic department. Under AD Mike Bohn — hired in 2019 from Cincinnati, snapping a long succession of ex-jocks masquerading as athletics directors — USC lured Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma, announced its audacious jump to the Big Ten and enjoyed a resurgence in both women’s and men’s basketball. USC athletics finally felt … stable. Turns out it was a… Read more »
I still vote Sosna.